I am absolutely dessert obsessed. When this gorgeous cookbook arrived at my doorstep, (Thank you Penguin Random House for generously sending it over in exchange for a review!) I was absolutely thrilled! Needless to say I had it all tabbed up with my favourites within minutes.
French-inspired pastry shop Bobbette & Belle based in Toronto, Ontario released this beauty late last year. This cookbook features a collection of over 100 recipes and variations of desserts all of which they sell in their pastry shop. While I have not had the opportunity to visit the shop (new mom problems), they have a line of treats they sell at The Bay Eaton Centre. Whenever I feel sorry for myself I will purchase a pack of their Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. They definitely aren’t cheap so I consider it an absolute treat and let me tell you….they are soooo worth the price. I was head over heels when I discovered this cookie recipe was revealed in the cookbook and yes they do taste almost the same!
The beginning of the book takes us to the Bobbette & Belle Story, essential tools and ingredients, general baking tips, tips for specific pastries and alternative baking & dietary restrictions. The sections are brief and not overwhelming (thank you!)
Chapters are divided into the following:
Classic Cookies and Bars
Loaves, Scones, Bundts and Tortes
Crumbles, Tarts and Pies
Chilled Crème Desserts
Confections and Sweets
Buttercreams, Frostings, and Fillings
Also included at the end: A source guide, conversion chart and a cross-referenced index.
Recipes are fairly easy to follow. Ingredients are listed in order of use and each recipe begins with a story, which I love. Ingredients are basic and most can be found at your local grocery store. All recipes have little tips at the bottom to help you through your baking. Hands on and total time are not included in the recipes however you will find the amount each recipe yields. The photography is GORGEOUS and each recipe has a picture.
Some of the recipes I have tabbed up:
Double Chocolate Fleur De Sel Cookies
Death by Chocolate Brownies
Pecan Caramel Churchill Squares
Double Chocolate Cupcakes
Dark Chocolate Brownie Fudge Cake
Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduja Cake
“No Raisin” Carrot Cake (and may I add no pineapple too! Yay!)
Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Sharp Cheddar and Chive Scones
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
Salted Caramel Tart with Dark Chocolate Glaze
I managed to recreate the Amaretti Cookies as well as the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I didn’t have much success with the Amaretti and I am reluctant to blame the recipe for being poorly written until I reattempt it. I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that I made an error somewhere along the way! The Chocolate Chip Cookies are amazing and I have made 3 batches of them with pure success every time! Find the recipe and pictures below.
Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 24 Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature but not soft
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups large-flake rolled oats
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
Put oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just to combine.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture, mixing until just combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once. Add the oats and chocolate chips and mix until fully incorporated.
Spoon 12 heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto each lined baking sheet, leaving ample space between them.
Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are light golden brown on the bottom. For even baking, rotate the sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Bobbette & Belle Tip:This recipe is particularly sensitive to the temperature of the butter. It needs to be room temperature but not too soft. If your kitchen is warm, use the butter before it reaches room temperature.
Overall I am in love with this cookbook and it is most definitely one that I will be baking from often!
A big thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me this cookbook in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own.
I made these on a whim today with my 3 year old. Everything has to have sprinkles on it so of course…sprinkles it is all over these tasty bars! I used PC brand Natural Smooth Peanut Butter but you can use any kind of peanut butter you like. Comment below if you try them out!
Chewy Coconut Granola Bars with Sprinkles
Makes about 20 bars (depending on how big you cut them)
Active time: 20 min
Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
3/4 cup nuts (pecans, cashews or almonds)- I used cashews
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
In a medium saucepan melt together the coconut oil, honey, peanut or almond butter, salt and ginger stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl mix together the oats, coconut, nuts and chocolate chips. Pour the warm coconut oil mixture over the oats and stir together to combine.
Pour mixture into a parchment-lined 9 x 13 inch baking dish and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with extra coconut, mini chocolate chips and sprinkles if desired. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
Use the parchment to remove the bar from the dish and cut into squares or bars. Store bars, separated with parchment, in the fridge. Can be stored for up to 2 weeks.
“Many of the recipes in this book reflect a time when folks lingered over their breakfast tables, rapt in conversation” Patty Pinner speaks in the introduction of her new book, “Sweet Mornings”. I love this. I have to admit that although I used to hate mornings, I am slowly becoming a morning person. Although I am so extremely exhausted first thing in the morning due to being a new mom all over again, I really look forward to sipping my coffee slowly. In fact my husband constantly teases me for being a really slow coffee drinker. I think part of me secretly does not want my mornings to end.
I love what this cookbook is all about. Family gatherings, reminiscing good times, bringing people together and socializing all over breakfast. These are the kind of cookbooks that genuinely warm my heart.
The beginning of the book takes us to a brief chat about what every baker needs as well as indispensible baking tools, then goes right into recipes (which I love). Recipes are divided into the following chapters:
The recipes are so easy to follow its ridiculous. Not a ton of ingredients listed and definitely suitable for the beginner baker. I love that some recipes also call for some premade stuff. Now I would not have said that say 3 years ago prior to being a Mom, but now time is more precious than ever and some days call for shortcuts! (actually most days really!) You can also expect a ton of homemade recipes as well, which is equally as fantastic. The index is cross-referenced which makes it super easy to find your go to recipes in the book. The only downside…not a ton of pictures. This would normally turn me right off from the entire book but surprisingly it didn’t. Thankfully the recipe names are so delicious that they caught my attention right away, no picture needed! (Trust me on this one!)
Some of my favourite:
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes
Tuesday Morning Blueberry Loaf
Mama’s French Toast Casserole (I can’t wait to try this one)
Mama’s Brown Sugar and Pecan Coffee Cake
Stuffed Pecan Pie French Toast
Morning Apple Crisp
Cream Cheese French Toast Bake and soooo many more!!
In our little family of four we have been making an effort to make Saturday mornings fun and memorable. We call Saturday morning breakfasts “Family fun breakfast” and my 3 year old daughter absolutely loves it. We purchase maple breakfast sausages, taters or any kind of frozen hash brown. My husband makes killer scrambled eggs and bacon and slathers toast in tons of butter (I’ll complain to him about having to lose my baby weight but secretly love it). Nothing about our fun breakfasts is really “homemade” but we don’t care. Its fast to make, tastes good and they are so so fun! We all sit there for a long time eating. Or let me rephrase that..my daughter sits there for roughly 2 hours eating..and demanding more.
While I was reviewing this book I was super excited to take over one family fun breakfast on Saturday and I chose to recreate the Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Bun Ring. This recipe included 2 tubes of refrigerated biscuit dough and I was super excited about it. I’ve never really cut corners before but as I mentioned above, it’s about time I do with 2 small children! Let me just say it was perfect. Delicious, fast and easy to make and my daughter loved helping me out.
Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Bun Ring
Makes 10 Servings
Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
All-purpose flour for dusting
¾ cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons breakfast syrup (I used Maple Syrup)
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 (10-count) tubes refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough, separated (I could not find any with buttermilk and purchased Pillsbury biscuit dough)
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan with the cooking spray and dust with some flour. Sprinkle the pecans and breakfast syrup into the pan.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/3 of the sugar mixture into the prepared pan.
Split each round of biscuit dough in half and arrange the halves horizontally in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture on top of the rounds of dough.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the ring is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 1 to 2 minutes.
Invert onto a serving platter and serve warm.
Overall this recipe was fantastic and I would definitely do it all over again. The only little issue I had was time in the oven. I had to keep it in the oven about 3 times longer that the stated time in the recipe. I am not sure why other than perhaps because the biscuit dough I purchased was a little different. I am not sure. Regardless, other than the impatient taste testers waiting, it was super fun, easy and delicious!
Click here to view a special Q & A with author Patty Pinner.
Many thanks to Agate Publishing for sending over this beautiful book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You may purchase “Sweet Mornings: 125 Sweet & Savory Breakfast and Brunch Recipes” by Patty Pinner on Amazon.ca for the current price of $33.06 CAN. Price is subject to change
Christmas cookie baking for our family starts around mid November, when the Downtown Toronto Santa Clause Parade all goes down. To me this signifies the start of the Christmas season. I am trying to create memories and traditions for my young family and one of them is baking gingerbread with my 3 year old for the big day with her cousins. We bake and decorate all day and wrap up our tasty treats in plastic and she proudly shares them with her aunts, uncles, and cousins.
I loved reading some of the essays in this book and the memories each unique cookie played in that person’s life. “Holiday Cookies” is filled with a collection of recipes and essays from the history of the Chicago Tribune’s Holiday Cookie Contest. For the contest, readers submitted a brief essay and a recipe describing what made the cookie special to the writer. The book is divided into the following chapters:
Simple Drop Cookies
Sugar & Spice
Fruit & Nut Treats
Brownies & Bars
Most recipes are accompanied by a picture of the cookie, as well as a photograph of the writer. The recipes are all quite simple to follow and most ingredients are readily available at your local supermarket.
I managed to recreate Dorie’s Dark and Stormies recipe which included chocolate of course. This recipe was used by contest winner Colleen Frankhart to get her through a rough romantic patch..and I can totally see why! Let’s just say they got me through the night with my 3 month old colicky baby! Comment below if you get around to trying the recipe.
Dorie’s Dark and Stormies
Prep time: 25 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour
Bake time: 14 minutes per batch
Yields: 3 dozen cookies
1 ¼ cups flour
1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits.
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together in a small bowl; set aside. Beat the butter until smooth in bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed. Add the sugars, vanilla and salt; beat 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add the flour mixture, mixing until incorporated but still crumbly, and being careful not to overload the dough. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface; squeeze it so that it sticks together in large clumps. (If you need to, it’s OK to lightly flour the work surface.) Gather the dough into a ball; divide in half. Shape each ball into a log 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap; chill at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Gently slice logs into ½-inch rounds using a serrated knife (some will crumble; simply press broken bits back onto cookie). Place 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.
Bake, one sheet at a time, 14 minutes; cookies will not look done or be firm. Cool on pan 5 minutes; transfer to cooling rack. Cool to room temperature.
NOTE: Dough can be made ahead and frozen. Frozen dough doesn’t need to be defrosted before baking: just slice logs and bake one minute longer. Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature up to 3 days or frozen up to a month.
I received a copy of Holiday Cookies from Agate Publishing. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You can purchase Holiday Cookies from Amazon.ca for the current price of $28.43 CAN.
With tips on entertaining, decorating ideas for the home and tons of super tasty recipes for the holiday season, this book is truly for the Christmas lover.
If your stuck on ideas on how to adorn your home with everything Christmas, this book has you covered. A fireside forest theme for your living room or a woodland mantel for your fireplace, each page is filled with beautiful Christmasy pictures on ideas for your home. Don’t know what to cook for your holiday feast? Full menus complete with recipes and pictures have you all set. My favourite part…the desserts of course! A huge bonus collection of all sorts of truffle recipes. A “Bake-and-Take Cookie Party” is a perfect activity to do with the kids with recipes for pecan linzer cookies, chai-spiced spritz cookies, dark chocolate crinkles and many more! Need some gifting ideas that don’t break the bank? A recipe for homemade all purpose biscuit, pancake, and waffle mix all in this 2016 collection complete with time-saving tips. Love it!
Short Rib and Stout Pies, Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Ricotta-Pecorino Crust,Amaretti-Chocolate Tart…yes this book is awesome! I am also loving the Cinnamon-Apple-Bourbon Bread Pudding that uses a package of frozen cinnamon rolls. I am usually a homemade everything kind of home cook but with a toddler and now a newborn, convenience recipes are becoming increasingly more appealing!
Pick and choose your favourites and make something unique and delicious for the holidays. The recipes included are super easy to follow and if you are familiar with recipes from Southern Living you will be well aware that they are SUPER delicious!
One of my favourite parts of this book is the 2016 Holiday Planner included at the end of the book. How adorable is this; documenting everything you do for the holiday season including a calendar for November and December, a decorating planner, Holiday meal prep planning and tips and so much more. Areas to write your Christmas dinner plan, gifts and greetings checklist and holiday memories, notes for next year, absolutely perfection! I love it!
I managed to recreate the Pear Salad and oh my goodness was it ever a hit with the family! We actually ended up eating this salad as a full meal for dinner one night (hence the picture below of the massive salad!) and it was absolutely to die for. Both my husband and I agree it will become a staple recipe in our cooking. I’ve included the recipe and picture below so you can taste for yourself. I can’t even imagine how tasty the rest of the recipes are!
Baby Kale and Pears with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
Serves:8 Hands-on: 15 minutes Total: 45 minutes
Tender baby kale leaves dressed in a savoury, rich roasted shallot dressing are enhanced by the sweetness of fall pears in this festive first course. Use a vegetable peeler to get pretty curls of cheese to garnish each plate of dressed salad.
4 large shallots, halved
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large fresh thyme sprig
1/4 cup high quality sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 medium-size, ripe Bosc pears, thinly sliced
2 (5-oz) packages mixed greens with baby kale (*I just used mixed greens as I could not find a mix with baby kale)
4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the shallots, oil, and thyme sprig in a small baking dish. Cover loosely with aluminium foil. Bake 30 min or until shallots are light golden brown and very tender, Discard thyme sprig.
Pulse roasted shallot mixture, vinegar, chopped thyme, mustard, honey, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper in a blender until shallots are mashed. Process until blended, scraping down sides as needed.
Toss pears with 1/4 cup dressing in a bowl.
Toss mixed greens with 1/4 cup dressing in a large bowl, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer greens to a large platter, top with pears, and sprinkle with pecans and cheese.
NOTE: To make ahead, prepare recipe as directed through Step 3 up to 1 hour ahead. Store pears and dressing in refrigerator. Proceed with recipe as directed in Step 4 when ready to serve.
This 2016 Complete Guide to Holiday Cooking and Decorating is definitely a keeper. I am absolutely thrilled to have discovered this annual book and I now look forward to it picking up a copy each year!
Christmas Cookie Swap! More than 100 Treat to Share this Holiday Season
I’ve never actually organized a cookie swap before but if I do in the future I think I would probably make every single cookie in this book…and eat them all before swapping time!
With over 100 tasty treats packed in this adorable book I don’t even know where to begin! Spritz Cookies, Iced Cookies, Filled Cookies, you name it, it’s in there. The book is divided into the following chapters:
Cookies for Santa
Brownies and Bars
Also included is a small section on Christmas cookie basics, tips on assembling a cookie platter (super cute!) and metric equivalents. The recipes are SUPER easy to follow and directions are short and simple. The ingredients are also very accessible and easy to find at your local superstore. Each recipe begins with a short description of the particular cookie as well as a picture of the cookie (yes! Love it). If you’re a cookie junkie like me, you will love this book to pieces and it’s a must have in your baking library.
Some of my favourite recipes:
Pretzel-Toffee-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Coconut Macadamia Shortbread
Snickerdoodle Spritz Cookies
Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Shortbread Squares
Hazelnut and Brown Butter Biscotti
Hidden Kiss Cookies
Frosted Mocha Espresso Brownies
German Chocolate Cake Truffles
Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Pretzel Bites
And so many more!!!
I managed to recreate the Pretzel Toffee Blondies and they were deee-licious! Perfectly salty and sweet and they were a huge hit at work. Check out the recipe below and if you make them, let me know how it goes and post below!
PRETZEL-TOFFEE BLONDIES (pic below)
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Makes: 16 Blondies
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
22 small pretzel twists, chopped
12 chocolate-covered small pretzel twists, chopped
4 (1.4oz) bars chocolate-covered English toffee candy, chopped (I used Skor)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. Stir together the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl with a spoon until blended. Add the vanilla, salt, and egg; stir with a wire whisk until blended. Stir in the flour until blended. Stir in the pretzels and toffee candy. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 24 to 26 minutes or until set and a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store loosely covered.
All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. A huge thank you to Time Inc Books for generously sending over a copy of Christmas Cookie Swap! in exchange for an honest review. Christmas Cookie Swap! is available to Amazon.ca for the current price of $23.68 CAD.
Being of Italian decent, I’ve made it a personal mission recently to make the perfect biscotti. So I went on a hunt to find the best biscotti cookbooks and stumbled upon “Ciao Biscotti” by Domenica Marchetti. This book is filled with a wonderful collection of sweet and savory biscotti recipes. Did I just say savory? I don’t know if I have been in the dark or what but I have never ever heard of savory biscotti before! This to me sounds delicious with a warm plate of brodo (Italian chicken soup)!
This cookbook begins with a section on biscotti basics. I found this section to be very helpful as making biscotti aren’t quite the same as making say, drop cookies or cookies that are rolled out and baked. So if you are truly dedicated to creating the most perfect biscotti, I would recommend reading this section! One thing I would have to disagree with is her storage suggestions. She says that she does not recommend freezing biscotti, as they tend to lose their crunch. My Nonna ALWAYS froze her homemade biscotti and let me tell you…they were definitely crunchy after defrosting! However, this could also be a result of certain ingredients and/or the way it was stored.
Each recipe begins with a little description of the particular biscotti recipe. Every recipe name is an indication as to what is in the biscotti (love that may I add). Ingredients are listed in order of use and directions are quite simple to follow. Ingredient list is not overwhelming and the recipes in general I would say are appropriate for the moderately advanced baker. (may possibly be a bit of a challenge for the beginner baker) Keep in mind that practice makes perfect and reading the biscotti basics in the beginning is essential in creating the most perfect biscotti!
Chapters are divided into the following:
Chocolate and Spice
Biscotti with Fruit
The Savory Side
Some of the tasty recipes that caught my eye: Hazelnut, Chocolate Kisses, Chocolate-Ginger, Chocolate Studded, Chocolate-Dipped Toasted Coconut, Cappuccino Dunkers, Green Tea with White Chocolate Glaze, Spiced and Iced Ginger, Pistachio Amaretti , Cornmeal with Rosemary & Parmigiano, Sun-Dried Tomato & Fennel.
I decided to recreate the Browned Butter & Toblerone Biscotti. These looked absolutely delicious and I really wanted to win my Dad over with these…he LOVES Toblerone! These turned out delicious however I do wish I was able to taste more of the Toblerone. The flavour was very subtle. To compensate for it, I drizzled double the chocolate on top, just cause… well that’s what I do!! Read below to find pictures of my experience making it along with the full recipe! If you get the chance to make them, comment below!
BROWNED BUTTER & TOBLERONE BISCOTTI
Makes about 32 large biscotti
2 ¾ cups/340 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ Tsp baking powder
½ Tsp fine sea salt
8 Tbsp/115g unsalted Butter
¾ cup/150g sugar
1 Tbsp brandy
2 Tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tsp pure almond extract
3 large eggs
One 3.52-oz/100g Toblerone bar, cut into small pieces
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 oz/115g semisweet chocolate, melted
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until well incorporated. Set aside.
In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Continue to cook the butter, stirring continuously, until it foams, turns clear, and then turns a deep brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat immediately and pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Let the butter cool for 5 to 10 minutes, until it is no longer hot.
Pour the sugar, brandy, vanilla, and almond extract into the bowl and beat on low speed until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Dump in the flour mixture and beat on low speed until a soft, sticky dough has formed (it will be very soft).
Toss in the chopped Toblerone bar and mix on low just until incorporated. Using a spatula, scrape the dough onto a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap. Pat it into a disk, wrap, and set in the refrigerator to chill for 30 to 60 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Lightly coat an 11-by-17-in/ 28-by-43-cm baking sheet with the oil.
Cut the chilled dough in half. Place one portion on one half of the baking sheet and use your hands and fingers to roll, stretch , and pat the dough into a log about 4 in/10cm wide and 10 in/25 cm long. Shape the second piece of dough in the same way. Press down on the logs to flatten them out a bit and make the tops even.
Bake the logs for 25 minutes, or until they are just set- they should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under each log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the logs cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer them to the rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325 F (165 C).
Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and, using a Santoku knife or a serrated bread knife, cut them on a diagonal into ½- in-/12-mm-thick slices. Arrange the slices, cut-side up, on the baking sheet (in batches if necessary) and bake for 8 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 8 minutes, until they are crisp and golden brown. Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely.
Arrange the slices cut-side up on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and wave it back and forth over the biscotti to create drizzles and droplets (you may not use all the melted chocolate, depending on how much drizzle you want). *Melissa’s NOTE: I drizzled quite a bit of chocolate and still had lots of chocolate left over. Enough to dip about 10 strawberries…which is exactly what I did! J
Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes for the chocolate to set. Let the biscotti return to room temperature before serving. The biscotti will keep for up to 10 days in an airtight container stored at room temperature.
WHAT TO DRINK: Perfect with a shot of espresso on a cold afternoon.
I loved this cookbook on biscotti. There are very few if any out there and this book is most definitely a keeper for me. I really look forward to making some of the other recipes mentioned above!
“Ciao Biscotti: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie” by Domenica Marchetti can be purchased on Amazon.ca for the current price of $19.42. Price is subject to change.
I was super thrilled when I was asked to participate in the “On The Table” Blog Tour from The Canadian Living Test Kitchen (Simon & Schuster Canada). If you read my blog post on Canadian Living’s “The Ultimate Cookbook”, you know how much of a fan I am of The Canadian Living Magazine!
Canadian Living recently released a series of Cookbooks all highlighting various themes including the following:
Pasta & Noodles
Make it Ahead
400 Calorie Dinners
Sweet & Simple
Fish & Seafood
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Canadian Living recipes, let me tell you they are some of the absolute best! Each recipe is Tested-Till-Perfect, which means little to no errors when you reproduce it in your own kitchen with zero professionals around you. Each recipe is tested using the same ingredients you find in the grocery store yourself and the same household appliances you use at home. This is precisely why I love Canadian Living recipes. The Canadian Living test kitchen puts us readers first and thinks about convenience, availability, and practicality for the average person at home.
I have been fortunate enough to review the “Fish & Seafood” Cookbook, which features 110 of the tastiest recipes in this category. The beginning of the book takes us to some Fish and Seafood Basics then jumps right into to recipes with the following categories:
Sandwiches & Wraps
Pastas & Noodles
Fried & Seared
Broiled & Grilled
Steamed & Boiled
Stews & Curries
Recipes in this book are super easy to follow with most recipes having a decent and doable amount of ingredients. Directions are simple to follow and appropriate for the beginner home cook. Each recipe includes hands-on time, total time, amount the recipe produces, nutritional information, tips from the test kitchen as well as serving recommendations. Recipes in the index at the back of the book are cross-referenced making it super easy to locate your favourite recipe. If you can’t remember the name, just look up a main ingredient. Perfect!
I managed to recreate the Cioppino Soup recipe on page 34. I can’t lie, I called my mother over to help me out a bit with this one as I am 9 months pregnant and was afraid the scent might have bothered me. To my surprise, it smelled AMAZING as it was simmering away on the stove! My husband absolutely went nuts for it and the recipe was ridiculously simple to make. It has already become a staple recipe and thanks to its simplicity, I have made it twice! Scroll below to find the recipe and pictures from my experience recreating it. I think the only tweaks I would have made would be to add a bit more salt and pepper. I ended up using Haddock as my white fish. Be sure not to skip or replace the clam juice. This gives the dish A LOT of flavour.
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings. (or if your husband or yourself or anyone you are making this for is anything like my own husband the serving is probably for 2….or 1)
What you need:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup bottled strained tomatoes (passata)
1 tsp pepper
225 g jumbo shrimp (21 to 24 count), peeled and deveined
225 g skinless firm white fish fillet (such as cod or halibut), cut crosswise in strips
How to make it:
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Pour in wine; cook, scraping up browned bits, until liquid is slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, oregano, pepper and clam juice; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in shrimp, scallops and fish; cover and cook over medium heat until shrimp are pink, and fish and scallops are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes.
TIP FROM THE TEST KITCHEN
If your scallops are more than 1 inch (2.5cm) thick, halve them horizontally to ensure they cook in the same amount of time as the shrimp and fish.
Overall this book was fantastic as are the rest of the books in the newly released series mentioned above. You may purchase “Fish & Seafood” By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen at Amazon.ca for the current price of $19.73 CAN (price is subject to change). But better yet, you could win all the books in this series thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada!! Click on the link below to enter!
I absolutely love Anna Olson. I used to watch her religiously prior to Food Network changing the programming. She used to be on regularly in the mornings and I would always be looking up the recipes she recreated on her shows. I also was lucky enough to meet her in person a couple years back at a Food show in Toronto and she is one of the most down to earth, friendly chefs I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
“Sugar” is one of Olson’s older books but I have to say it is definitely a keeper. The beginning of the book takes us to a variety of baking basics including ingredients, tools and techniques. If you’re a frequent baker, stuff you likely already know. Chapters are divided into the following:
Each chapter includes subheadings with various ingredients from that particular chapter making it simple to locate a particular recipe you may be interested in.
The recipes are simple enough for the beginner baker. Ingredients are listed in order of use and are not overly long. Directions are easy to follow and for some recipes, variations are also included. Most recipes include side notes with tips and tricks that I found to be very helpful and super interesting. Also included are storage guidelines for some recipes. The only downside is lack of pictures throughout the book. I love pictures of every recipe. For me, pictures are what inspire me to recreate the recipe. She does include a few but definitely not enough in my opinion.
I managed to recreate the Mocha Bites on page 174. Lets just say I have already made them twice! These cookies are perfect with coffee and are SO EASY to make on a whim. I have a 2 year old at home and currently 9 months pregnant and let me tell you…anyone can quickly whip these up if company is coming last minute! They have a similar texture and taste to shortbread and a good amount of coffee in each bite.
Makes 2 to 3 dozen
1 cup/ 250mL unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup/ 125mL icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup/ 50mL espresso
4 tsp/ 20mL vanilla
2 ¼ cups/ 550mL all purpose flour
¼ cup/ 50 mL cocoa powder
¼ tsp/ 1mL salt
Sugar for coating
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (160 C). Cream together butter and icing sugar until smooth. Stir in espresso and vanilla. Sift in all purpose flour, cocoa and salt and mix until dough comes together. Turn dough onto a board lightly dusted with icing sugar. Divide dough in half and shape into logs. Slice dough on an angle in ½-inch (1-cm) slices. Place cookies upright on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 min.
While warm, toss cookies gently, two at a time, in sugar and allow to cool.
If you don’t have an espresso maker at home, purchase a shot of espresso at your neighbourhood coffee shop.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this cookbook and it will definitely be one I go back to often. I do wish there were more pictures but..I guess that means we have to use our imagination!
A big thank you to Whitecap books for generously sending over a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You can purchase “Sugar” by Anna Olson at Amazon.ca for the current price of $20.86 CAN (Price is subject to change)
When I was asked to participate in the Cooking Around the World Blog Tour, I was absolutely thrilled! I love culture and food and the two together and I love experiencing new and different things. My husband and I used to be avid travelers until we became parents 2 years ago. The most adventure we have now is once a month, heading out to a local Toronto restaurant and experiencing local food. I mean, its not terribly bad but nothing beats getting on a plane of course. Cooking from these wonderful cookbooks gave me the opportunity to bring the countries to us. Read on as I reviewed 3 beautiful cookbooks and traveled to France, The Caribbean and Croatia right from my home and filled my kitchen with the smells of authentic food from these great countries!
“The South of France Cookbook” by Nina Parker
Author Nina Parker takes us to the beautiful beaches of St. Tropez and all the local wonderful food it has to offer. With strong, fresh flavors of Provencal cuisine, Nina shows us her take on classic recipes from the South of France.
The pictures in this cookbook are just beautiful. With a mix of local pictures around St.Tropez and the beautiful food photography by Paul Winch-Furness, I truly felt like I was right there in St. Tropez feeling the warm sun on my back, munching on some tasty food at a local restaurant.
The book is divided into the following chapters:
Drinks & Canapés
Each chapter begins with a chat of Nina’s adventures in St. Tropez and how it relates to the coming chapter. Each recipe also begins with a fun little description of the origins of the particular recipe. Ingredients are listed in order of use and directions are simple to follow. Most ingredients are readily available at your local supermarket.
I recreated the Ramatuelle Bioche and boy was I ever impressed! It was perfectly flakey and oh so buttery and the smell in my house was incredible once I removed it from the oven! This is a perfect recipe to make if you don’t have the time or patience to make homemade croissants with a very similar taste. Find the recipe below along with pictures of my creation. Please don’t let all the proofing times turn you off from trying it out. It takes nothing to leave dough on its own to rise and hands on time was fairly minimal.
Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves
5 tsp whole milk
2 tsp fresh yeast or 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast (* I used instant)
1 1/4 cups (6 1/2 oz/200g) bread flour
2 free-range large eggs, plus 2 yolks, lightly beaten (*I used regular large eggs)
2 tbsp unrefined superfine sugar (*I used regular granulated sugar)
1/2 cup (4oz/125g) soft unsalted butter
Heat the milk until lukewarm and add the yeast and 1 heaped teaspoon of the flour. Set aside for 30 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat three-quarters of the eggs, the sugar, and a pinch of salt together. Add the yeast mixture, and after a minute, gradually spoon the rest of the flour. Mix until everything is just combined, then cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Now, set the mixer to a slow speed and begin spooning in the soft butter, letting each addition combine with the dough before adding the next. Once everything is incorporated, increase the speed and mix until the dough looks elastic and shiny. Scrape into a clean, dry bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in the fridge overnight.
(* Upon opening my fridge in the morning to check on my lovely dough, I noticed it hardly rised at all. The dough in general seems to be a very heavy, dense dough and not a typical dough I am used to. I am not sure if this is normal or if this was a result of making a couple substitutions. I was ready to start the recipe all over again but then decided to just bake it after the second rising and it came out perfect.)
The next day, line a slightly larger-than-standard loaf pan or two standard 8 x 4 x 2 1/2-inch (17 x 1 1 x 9-cm) pans, with parchment paper. Take the dough out of the fridge and pit it in the pan(s). Cover lightly with plastic wrap and leave to proof for 2-3 hours in a warm, dry place. Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Once the dough has doubled in size, brush it with the remaining beaten egg and bake it for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is gorgeous and golden. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve warm.
This brioche is at its best in flavour and texture on the same day it is made. It should be moist, flakey and buttery. I did keep it for a couple days and as the days went by it got drier and therefore not as tasty.
Some other recipes you can expect to find: Sticky Buns, Coconut and Wild Honey Bread, Sea-Salted Caramel from Grimaud, La Mole-Inspired Omelet with Chanterelles, Gruyere and Thyme, The Feline Onion Tart, Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Tarragon Pizza, Roasted Butternut Squash with Wild Fennel Seeds, Graniers Spring Rolls, Bun Man Chicken, Vanilla and Orange Blossom Marshmallows, St.Tropez Tart, Buttermilk Scones with Raspberry Jam and Rosewater Cream, Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms and Chickpeas, Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream and so so many more!!
You may purchase “The South of France Cookbook” By Nina Parker on Amazon.ca for $42.29 CAN or wherever books are sold. Price is subject to change.
“Creole Kitchen: Sunshine Flavors from the Caribbean” by Vanessa Bolosier
With recipes based on classic dishes from Guadeloupe and Martinique, Vanessa Bolosier takes us to the islands with her new cookbook “Creole Kitchen”. Vanessa, a self-taught cook has learned all she knows about island cooking from mother and from her late father who was her food mentor. Food has been and always will be a huge part of her life and you can feel the passion she has as you read each recipe and how it remains special to her. Vanessa goes on to discuss the history of Creole food, what it is and how it came about. She chats about local restaurant and street food and most importantly homemade food.
Included at the beginning of the cookbook is a section on what ingredients you may expect to find in a Creole kitchen. To name a few: coconut vinegar, white vinegar, allspice, cloves, fresh ginger, chilies, mangos, pineapples, a variety of beans, plantains and bananas, breadfruit, cassava, Giraumon (a squash that grows in the Caribbean) and many more. Some ingredients included may not be familiar and may also be difficult to find locally however she give alternatives at the beginning of the book. Also included are some key elements of Creole food and techniques.
Chapters are divided into the following:
Fish & Seafood (Pwasson e fwidme)
Meat & Poultry (Viann e poul)
Sauces & Condiments (Soss e kondiman)
I chose to recreate the Mont Blanc Coconut Cake. A genoise sponge cake with coconut frosting. This cake was supposed to be light and airy that “makes it taste like a coconut cloud”. I am sad to say that mine came out very dense. I am not sure exactly what went wrong but it still tasted great. I loved the flavours of rum and coconut together, it reminded me of something I would eat on vacation.
You may purchase “Creole Kitchen: Sunshine Flavors from the Caribbean” by Vanessa Bolosier on Amazon.ca for $43.65 CAN or wherever books are sold. Price is subject to change.
“Mamushka: A Cookbook” by Olia Hercules
Author Olia Hercules, a native of Ukraine takes us back to her hometown where she grew up eating seasonally. This is a truly authentic Cookbook with a collection of recipes from Ukraine & Eastern Europe. My husband was thrilled when he saw me flipping through this book as his father is from Hungary and many of the recipes he saw took him back to his childhood.
Some useful ingredients are included at the beginning of the book. These include some that may not be familiar to the average home cook. I certainitely did not recognize a few. There are about a handful of ingredients used in the book that would have you traveling to a local Eastern European grocery store (Gherkins, dill heads, sour cherry leaves, Smetana, syr)
If you are looking for a healthy range of recipes, look elsewhere. These recipes are all definitely very indulgent and hearty. Many of the recipes in this book have a lengthy list of ingredients. The directions are not terribly hard but you do need to make sure you have the time to recreate it, as some of the directions are also lengthy. I found the recipes quite unique and in my opinion daring. Many of which I would be a little hesitant to try but perhaps I am not as adventurous as I thought! That being said, the pictures are fantastic and the food does look scrumptious. Each recipe begins with a description and mini history/importance of the forthcoming recipe which I always love reading before deciding to make a particular dish.
Chapters are divided into the following:
Broths & Soups
Breads & Pastries
Vegetables & Salads
Dumplings & Noodles
Meat & Fish
Fermented Pickles & Preserves
I managed to recreate the Zucchini & Potato Stew (Coyc/Sous) I had thought that it would have been super quick and easy but it did take longer than I expected. I was standing at the stove for a good hour or more just frying (not including prep time). The upside: it was super tasty. The downside: time consuming and every single ingredient was fried. I can’t say that it was very picturesque but it sure tasted better than it looked! (promise!)
Some of my favourites that I would love to recreate: Ukrainian Garlic Bread (this recipe looks phenomenal!), Greek breads with green onions, Moldovan giant cheese twist, Stuffed Ukrainian pasta, Ukrainian gnocchi, Garlicky Georgian poussins, Apple sponge, Poppy seed roll.
You may purchase “Mamushka: A Cookbook” by Olia Hercules on Amazon.ca for $39.92 CAN or wherever books are sold. Price is subject to change.
* A big thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending over all three copies of these beautiful cookbooks in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own.